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New Open Music Initiative seeks to streamline streaming music distribution, royalties

on June 13, 2016, 2:40pm

The digital music landscape can often feel like a game of Minecraft, with each step having to be careful and calculated or else all will be blown to smithereens. A new initiative called the Open Music Initiative (OMI), fronted by The Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE), with cooperation from the MIT Media Lab, is hoping to drastically change this landscape — for the better.

The goal is simple: to streamline digital music distribution, curb copyright issues, and above all else, improve how rights owners are currently identified and compensated for digital music sales.

“We want to use the brainpower, neutrality and convening ability of our collective academic institutions, along with broad industry collaboration, to create a shared digital architecture for the modern music business,” Panos Panay, co-­founder of OMI and founding managing director of BerkleeICE, said in a statement. “We believe an open-sourced platform around creative rights can yield an innovation dividend for creators and rights holders alike.”

(OMI) already has an impressive lineup of participating entities. So far Universal Music, Sony Music, and Warner Music have joined forces with streaming services such as: Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, SoundCloud, and SiriusXM. The previously mentioned major labels and streaming platforms are only some, of over 50 media groups, that have expressed interest in OMI and have agreed to work towards an open-source platform for tracking music creators and rights owners, according to BerkleeICE.

BerkleeICE also noted signing agreements from: CD Baby, Tunecore, Downtown Music Publishing, Featured Artist Coalition, Music Managers Forum, Future of Music Coalition, Boston NPR affiliate WBUR, and several other startups.

Statements from a handful of streaming platforms have, well, streamed in following the news of the initiative. Spotify head of communications Jonathan Price said in statement that transparency across “the entire music economy” is something the platform values, while Pandora founder and CEO Tim Westergren similarly said, “This is a very important effort and we’re deeply committed to bringing more transparency and simplicity into the industry.”

But while industry heavy-weights are now weighing in the subject, let’s not forget that many artists themselves have been voicing such sentiments for years. From cellist Zoë Keating to Taylor Swift, and many others, trying to mow the digital music landscape is no new task. But maybe, just maybe, these people who are so rooted in a love for music (or maybe just a love for money) have chosen to finally listen.

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